I'm a stayathome mom of 4yr old and 18mo old boys. We read, take walks, limit tv, paint, bake. My 4yr old has taken to chasing everyone with sticks (swords) and turning my gentle stories/games into something more violent. Is this is a 4yr old thing? If not I don't know where its coming from. We live in a rural community and there are very few boys in our social circle and none his age. He often chooses one child at our playgroup and refuses to share with him/her and announces "they can't play". I pull him aside and gently try to explain how hurtful this is and redirect. This rarely works and the behavior escalates. We end up leaving- him crying/angry and me feeling impotent and defeated, as no other child seems to do this to this extreme. I've begun to limit our socializing with the kids that trigger this behavior, thinking that I'll try to seek out a more positive connection for him. The problem is, I'm becomng more and more isolated, as there aren't that many options for socialization where we live. I grapple with the frustration of why does he act this way, of him becoming "labeled" as the mean kid (when he oftne times plays beautifully with others), and for my lack of appropriate response. I've begun to dread going to anywhere these days because it ends up just not being fun due to some sort of tantrum and public humiliation. I feel so alone because I don't know the right words to say and have no one in a similar situation to emulate. He's growing increasingly disrespectful to me and I alternate between rationalizing "oops, he must be tired, hungry, etc..." and gently reasoning, to the "I'm your mother and I said so" approach (which I really dislike but when I'm grasping at straws I revert back to how I was parented) - neither of which seem to work. I feel schizophrenic- some days I think, well, this is a phase and I have to understand and help him through it. Then the next day I'm all about time outs and not taking his tone and lack of respect. He starts preschool in Sept, which will help in terms of socialization for him, but still, I feel like I'm a pretty ineffective mom. I'm trying so hard and feel like I'm being beaten down, daily. Can anyone help?